Seagulls are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, making it an offence to intentionally injure or kill any gull, or to take, damage or destroy an active nest or its contents.

The former West Dorset District Council introduced an Anti-social Behaviour Related Public Space Protection Order (PSPO), which covers Lyme Regis and makes it a civil offence to intentionally feed seagulls. Fixed penalty notices can be issued and carry a £100 penalty if paid within 28 days, reduced to £75 if paid within 14 days.

View the Anti-social Behaviour Related PSPO

Information for property owners

There are certain measures property owners can take in relation to the birds nesting.

Our information leaflet includes details of the law relating to wild birds, and ways to deter seagulls from nesting on property.

Herring gulls especially like nesting on flat rooftops, chimneys and gullies in sloping roofs. Eggs are laid from May (usually two or three in each nest). Gulls see humans as a threat and will dive towards humans who go near their young.

Please see our frequently asked questions.

Avian Flu

Avian influenza (bird flu) mainly affects birds. It can also affect humans and other mammals.

A regional Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) was put into place by the government over Cornwall and Devon, Isles of Scilly and parts of Somerset earlier in September. Dorset is outside of the Prevention Zone although some premises that keep birds/poultry in this area are affected by the measures.  

Avian influenza (bird flu) is a notifiable animal disease. If you suspect any type of avian flu in poultry or captive birds you must report it immediately by calling the Defra Rural Services Helpline on 03000 200 301.

Reporting dead wild birds – call the Defra helpline (03459 33 55 77) if you find:

  • one or more dead bird of prey or owl
  • 3 or more dead gulls or wild waterfowl (swans, geese and ducks) 
  • 5 or more dead birds of any species

Do not touch or pick up any dead or visibly sick birds that you find. For further information see DEFRA advice to the public.

DEFRA will collect some of these birds and test them to help us understand how the disease is distributed geographically and in different types of bird. Calls to the Defra helpline about dead wild birds are triaged and not all birds will be collected. The criteria for which birds are collected are adjusted to increase or decrease the sensitivity of surveillance.

Wild birds are susceptible to a range of diseases and injuries and not all dead birds will have been infected with avian influenza.

If dead wild birds are not needed for avian influenza surveillance purposes and landowners have taken the decision to remove carcasses, it is the landowner’s responsibility to safely arrange disposal of the carcasses.

Landowners are responsible for any costs associated with removal and disposal of dead wild birds. If dead birds are on public land it is the local authority’s responsibility to arrange disposal of the carcasses where removal is warranted. Double-bagging is required. Further information about disposal is available on the government website.